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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gun owners -- even those without a concealed weapons permit -- would be allowed to carry their loaded weapons in cars under a bill being prepared for the Utah Senate.
Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, said he is drafting a bill, SB175, that would give gun owners the same access to weapons in their cars that they have in their homes.
"It's called the 'home-castle' principle," Madsen said. "If you're in your car, the same right you have in your home extends to your car. It's pretty simple."
Gun owners now may carry unloaded, secured firearms in vehicles but may carry loaded guns only if they have a concealed weapons permit.
Madsen said someone who needs protection while traveling should not have to fumble with a gun case and loading ammunition.
Madsen said he lived in Washington, D.C., for 15 years and saw the city become "the carjacking capital of the world."
Sen. Karen Hale, D-Salt Lake, a member of a group working to keep guns out of schools and churches, said the idea raises some concerns.
"Would there be children sitting in the car? That would be a huge concern," she said. "I think it is a concern when we have road rage. I'm not sure we want to add that element to that rage."
Gary Sackett of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah said the bill "sounds like a perfectly dreadful idea. ... It's one thing to protect a man's or a woman's castle. It's quite another to have a rolling arsenal on the freeways where tempers flare and sometimes better judgment does not prevail."
However, Elwood Powell, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, said, "Everybody needs an opportunity to defend themselves and certainly if you haven't got that option, that leaves you vulnerable to car hijacking."
Powell said neither road rage nor having children in the car presented a problem.
He said he was aware of only one recent incident of road rage. As for having children in a car with a loaded gun, he said many are already around guns at home.
"It's a family matter to teach children the proper handling of firearms and safe respect for them," Powell said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)